A prominent Catholic writer has accused Pope Francis of turning the Church into a “liquid society” where uncertainty is the only certainty.
Vittorio Messori, who came to prominence after interviewing Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1984 for the book The Ratzinger Report, said the Pope is in danger of making the same mistake as Protestants by reinterpreting doctrine and undermining the “stability and firmness of the Catholic Church”.
In an article for Italian magazine Il Timone, translated by the National Catholic Register, Messori started by criticising a “disconcerting interview” with the Jesuit superior general Fr Arturo de Sosa.
He accused Fr de Sosa of effectively “‘liquefying’ the Gospel itself” by saying Jesus’s words were not recorded on tape and “we don’t know exactly what he said”, meaning we can “adapt” the Gospel according to the times.
He then accused Pope Francis of having a similar attitude, especially when the Pontiff criticises a “Catholic temptation” to have “rigid” rules rather than judging on a “case by case basis”.
The old Jesuit tradition of “discernment”, Messori added, has been twisted so it now means to “freely interpret even dogma, depending on the situation, as has happened in some official documents containing [the Pope’s] signature, which have aroused perplexity (to use a euphemism) in some cardinals.”
Messori said “in all humility” that such an approach seems “wrong and damaging to the Church and the faith”.
“In a ‘liquid world’ where everything becomes uncertain, precarious, provisional, it is precisely the stability and firmness of the Catholic Church that all humanity needs, and not only believers,” he added.
“Those rocks of dogma, to which the superior general of the Society of Jesus is allergic, could and should become firm ground in a society that flatters itself and tends towards mushy chaos.”
More than ever, the Church needs the “full clarity of the Catechism” rather than the “ever-changing ‘in my opinion’”.
He said that Protestantism has gone down this road, “and history has shown what it has led to, but unfortunately, as usual, history is not magistra vitae [life’s teacher].”
As well as the Ratzinger Report, Messori also published a best-selling interview with Pope John Paul II, and has been described as the “most translated” author in the Catholic world.